Tag Archives: leadership

9 Best Practices for Executive and Leadership Communication

For some executives, communication is an afterthought, or even a “necessary evil.” A Harvard Business Review/Harris poll found that a staggering 91 percent of U.S. workers see communication issues as a major hindrance for business leaders.

Thriving organizations have open lines of communication at all levels, including at the top. According to research conducted by the Project Management Institute, leaders who are effective communicators are five times more likely to be high performers than those who are minimally effective. Likewise, better communication means fewer company dollars are put at risk.

What can leaders and top corporate communicators do to ensure that executives are communicating effectively? Here are nine best practices, as laid out by communication experts, researchers and successful executives themselves:

1. Foster a culture of communication.

In a post on the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School’s website, communications expert Walter G. Montgomery writes, “It’s important for everyone to know that the CEO takes communications very seriously.” When everyone within an organization understands that communication is a key value—not just an afterthought—everyone will be more willing to listen and engage.

2. Don’t be afraid of training.

Montgomery adds that top executives should “insist on training initiatives to ensure people have the ability to carry out their communications duties effectively.” Those training mandates should apply to executives themselves.

3. Be crystal clear.

Employees are busy, which means they don’t have time to do detective work to figure out what an executive speech or email means. Dispense with meaningless platitudes and jargon. Say what you mean and let employees know in clear language what you want them to do.

4. Don’t just be a cheerleader.

The Institute for Public Relations suggests that employees today are looking for ways to demonstrate their “ethic of contribution” to go above and beyond normal job performance, so challenge them to achieve; don’t just point to what they’ve done.

5. Have a common goal in mind.

Everyone within and organization should be working toward the same thing, and it’s up to executives to make that goal apparent. The American Management Association’s David Hassell puts it this way: “When employees operate at cross purposes, communication is critical in setting things straight.”

6. Speak in your own voice.

Employees want to hear from a person. They don’t want canned, committee-written edicts. “The lower your pedestal, the more they’ll rally behind you,” Alexandra Levit of Inspiration at Work told Inc.

7. Engage in a dialogue.

Communication doesn’t end when you send your email or give your speech. Hassell writes, “Meet the enthusiastic sharing of ideas, insights, and concerns with positive reinforcement, never reproach, no matter how critical.”

8. Take a multi-pronged approach.

Different employees want different things when it comes to communication. Some may prefer face-to-face interaction with a manager, others may prefer to read messages in newsletters or other company-wide emails. Still others may look to the company intranet. Craft versions of your key messages to cater to all the audiences within your organization to ensure everyone is on the same page.

9. Measure your results.

The Institute for PR insists that “best in class companies relentlessly track strategies, tactics and channels.”

Want to know more about what works and what doesn’t in the world of internal communications? Download PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey Results.

Recognizing and Rewarding Staff: 3 Tips

A recent article on the iMedia Connection website explains how and why modern businesses should acknowledge the achievements made by their teams.

In today’s face paced business world, taking the time to recognize and reward employees for their hard work can significantly impact their engagement levels- and, as a result, how much effort they are likely to put into their next big task or project.

Numerous studies have found that having a clear recognition program not only boosts the morale and job satisfaction of those already working for you, but it can help attract new talent too.

Although this has been proven in many studies some leaders are still unaware of the benefits of recognizing and rewarding staff for their accomplishments. Also common is that leaders are having difficulty monitoring which member of staff has done what. This is becoming increasingly challenging as workforces are becoming more dispersed and remote.

By finding solutions that help leaders and managers track and reward these accomplishments, an organization can enjoy improved morale, increased productivity and higher retainment figures.

Here are some solutions:

Software that Offers Macro- and Micro- Visibility
Intelligent work and project management systems can provide a more detailed perspective on workloads, by capturing data such as completion timeframes and collaborative input. Managers and leaders can assess whether projects were completed on time and on budget, and who the top performers of each project were.

Social Elements
Adding a social intranet or using other work management tools with social style collaborative features can help employees share ideas and praise each other on completed projects. With these tools all this information is available for company-wide viewing, allowing others to recognize the group’s effort.

Streamline Process
One of the easiest ways to improve employee engagement and productivity is by making systems and process more streamlines, reducing any frictions or frustrations that may emerge. By making it easier to teams to do their work effectively, you will be encouraging them to stay with your company.

 

Read the full article here.

October Engagement Rates Remain Stable

We’ve talked a lot this year about Gallup’s Daily Survey to measure employee engagement rates in the US. Back in the beginning of the year we experienced some higher than normal rates, then followed by relatively similar rates since then. The survey shows for the month of October, out of the random sample of 7,273 employed US adults aged 18 and above, an average of 32.1% considered themselves to be engaged in their jobs.

Engagement is classified based on its key workplace elements including staff feeling that their opinions are listened to at work, having the opportunity to use their talents each day, and having support from leaders or managers who encourage their individual development.

Engaged employees are more enthusiastic about their own work and the success of the company as a whole, meaning that they can significantly impact a company’s productivity and success. According to Gallup’s previous in depth research, employee engagement is linked with business outcomes that directly affect an organization’s bottom line.

Interestingly, employee engagement in the US is experiencing its longest period of stability since the Gallup Daily Surveys began in 2011. As of March 2015, monthly averages have remains at a similar level- whereas in the past they have tended to fluctuate greatly over the course of the year.

In 2015 alone the engagement metric has been higher than it was between 2011 and 2013. So far this year it hasn’t fallen below 31%, and if the average above 31% continues for the final months of the year, the 2015 average will be slightly above last year’s average of 31.5%. The most engaged year yet!

Of course, while the stability and the figures are all positive, it still shows that the majority of the US workforce is not engaged- and on average, the nation has only two employees per “actively disengaged” employee. So it’s safe to say there is a ton of room for growth.

Read more about October’s engagement rates here.

US Employee Active Disengagement at Record Low

Recently posted on the Gallup website, a survey shows that the engagement of US employees fell to it’s lowest monthly average of the year in May 2015, with just 31.5% of the workforce feeling engaged in their jobs.

According to the report, while the figure runs in line with the previous months, with January, March and April of this year all witnessing a 31.7% engagement level it means that May had the lowest monthly average so far this year.

However, despite employee engagement remaining continuously flat, the number of “actively disengaged” US employees appears to be falling. From April to May this tear, the proportion of actively disengaged workers fell from 17.5% to 16.5%- the lowest yet this year and, along with December 2014’s figures, the all-time lowest active disengagement number on record. Since Gallup’s daily assessment of US worker engagement began back in 2011, active disengagement has reached as high as 21.8%.

It’s encouraging to see that active disengagement rates are going down while engagement rates are going up. The report summary notes that while US employers were able to reduce their proportion of actively disengaged employees in May, they were unable to increase the proportion of engaged members of staff. This suggests that employees are simply “not engaged”, conducting their daily tasks with little passion or enthusiasm.

As Gallup explains, while disengaged workers are not as destructive as actively disengaged ones, their lack of energy and drive means they are not being as productive as they could be, limiting an organization’s potential growth.

In order to resolve this issue, company bosses should be employing high-performing managers and implementing development strategies and incentives that play on the strengths of their employees.

Read the full article here.

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Boosting Employee Engagement with Helpfulness

A recent article from the Huffington Post offered some new insight on the topic of employee engagement. With so many businesses struggling to get it right, we were excited to hear of some fresh ideas.

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It’s a proven fact that an engaged workforce leads to better business results. But research still suggests the number of passively or actively disengaged workers in the United States hovers anywhere between 40% and 60%.

The Huffington Post was able to speak with Greg Becker, CEO of Silicon Valley Bank, which was recently named one of the best places to work by Fortune Magazine. Becker states that he feels “the power of helpfulness” has helped them to generate and maintain extremely high levels of engagement within their teams. “We make sure that each and every one of our employees understand how we help our clients and how they fit into that. We’re always looking for ways to connect what employees do directly to the success of the client. This helps employees enjoy their work more, and it also boosts their engagement.”

The technique Becker and many other bosses use of helping employees just as much as their clients seems to be highly effective; and doesn’t cost a lot of money either. Employees receive weekly reminders about how the bank helps clients, through the in house TV program. The video feature a real customer experience, sometimes through an interviewing the customer themselves. This helps staff to understand and appreciate their role in helping.

In addition, leaders reinforce a culture of helpfulness by recognizing employees that represent these values. This includes acknowledging and praising them for helpful behaviors and reminding everyone that being helpful is key to the company’s success, and boosting staff morale in the process.

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Employee Engagement: Four Steps

An engaged employee cares about their company, and that is fostered by a company’s care of its employees. Employers who strive to build a better future for their staff will encourage engagement as well as retain key staff.

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Here’s Four Key Steps

1. Create a Sense of Team

When we know people are counting on us, we typically don’t let them down. To create a strong sense of team, communicate to employees how their role impacts others.

2. Cultivate a Sense of Purpose

Highly engaged employees feel like their work contributes to a larger objective, so communicate that to staff at all levels. It’s often beneficial to seek input from employees on how roles impact objectives. Simply considering all input can boost engagement.

3. Set Reasonable Expectations

 Engaged employees know what is expected of them, and how they are measured. Good employee training, best practices documentation, and simply talking about it in meetings will enable staff to understand what to do, how to do it, and encourage them to care.

4. Generate Opportunities

Employees often want to see progression in their career, so good employers strive to better futures for their businesses by building future paths for employees.

Read the full article here